When Judge Randa pulled the plug on Wisconsin's John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's campaign finance schemes, I knew he was a tool, but I didn't realize he was cosseted so deeply in the pockets of the Koch/Bradley Charitable Complex.
Brendan Fischer at PRWatch has the gory details:
On May 6, federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa blocked an ongoing John Doe criminal probe into allegedly illegal coordination between nonprofit groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on electoral ads during Wisconsin's recall elections, and the recall campaigns of Governor Scott Walker and state senators. John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations, and Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and its director, Eric O'Keefe, a longtime compatriot of the Koch brothers -- asked the federal court to stop the probe, alleging it violated their "free speech" rights.
Judge Randa sided with O'Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.
An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).
The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical. Many of these interests have long opposed limits on money in politics, although it is not known whether campaign finance reform was a topic at the seminars Randa attended.
The seminars amount to a privately-funded all-expenses paid trip for judges, with conference sponsors picking up the costs of a judge's flights, hotel rooms, and meals. One seminar Judge Randa attended was in La Jolla, California, a swanky San Diego suburb that is home to both great golfing and Mitt Romney; the location of other seminars Randa attended is unknown. The content of the seminars has a decidedly pro-corporate bent, and the expensive gifts raise concerns about improper influence when corporate sponsors have a stake in a case before a judge. (Some reports have directly connected the trips to judge's decisions).
No other federal district judges in Wisconsin attended the privately-funded George Mason seminars, according to the Center for Media and Democracy's review of publicly available financial disclosure documents.
Always handy to have a federal judge or two in your pocket, and there's certainly money in the Kochtopus budget to buy a couple, too. So now we know why Judge Randa not only ended the investigation but also ordered documents to be destroyed. It's all part of the paycheck.